In the last 16 days, the people have donated Rs.6.64 crore, thanks to Arvind Kejriwal’s interaction with the Indian diaspora in the U.S., Hong Kong

Though it is still less than a year since it was formed, the Aam Aadmi Party has caught the imagination of the people and managed to mobilise over Rs.17 crore in funds. As much as 35 to 40 per cent of the fund has been collected online, a pattern which is indicative of its support base in the middle class.

Donations to the party have picked up with the Delhi Assembly elections drawing closer. Till October 13, the AAP had received Rs.10.49 crore. But thereafter, it has witnessed a marked jump in its fortunes: In the last 16 days, the people have contributed Rs.6.64 crore to the party taking the total to Rs.17.1 crore.

The recent spurt in funding is being credited to party leader Arvind Kejriwal’s interaction with the Indian diaspora abroad.

Last week, the party’s chief ministerial candidate had interacted with the Indian diaspora in the United States and Hong Kong among other countries through Google hangouts..

Through this the party had raised around Rs.1 crore. Of the Rs.17 crore that the AAP has raised, over Rs.12.1 crore have been within India while the rest has come through foreign contributions.

Among the countries from where donations have come, the U.S. tops the list with Rs.1.8 crore followed by Hong Kong (over Rs.1 crore).

The party flaunts, among its contributors, a Hong Kong-based NRI Amit Aggarwal who donated Rs.50 lakh and Nidhi, a Delhi student, who donated all her savings.

Party members consider the financial achievements “phenomenal” for a political entity which started from scratch. The party, which was formed on the plank of “swaraj” (self-rule) and “paardarshita” (transparency) had meagre resources when it decided to make an electoral debut in the Delhi Assembly elections.

The aggressive hunt for funds started with mass emails to over five lakh people every day, convincing people to be a stakeholder in the “politics of change”. More than a crore emails have been sent.

‘Shared responsibility’

“In these messages, the party was quite upfront in telling people that if the politics of the country had to be changed, Arvind Kejriwal alone could not do that. We tried to convince them that ‘change’ will happen only through ‘shared responsibility’ and those who want to see the change will have to be stakeholders in this process,” said AAP member Dilip Pandey.

Once released in the virtual world, these messages were shared, tweeted, forwarded and promoted on social media by the ever-increasing network of party supporters, he added.

The AAP has around 3.6 lakh subscribers on Facebook and over 1.5 lakh followers on Twitter. Mr. Kejriwal has 6.35 lakh and 6.2 lakh followers on Twitter and Facebook respectively.

Thanks to the online support, the contributions started pouring in and the party is now sustaining itself financially on what Mr. Pandey terms as “crowd funding”.

What the AAP, a new entrant on the political scene, has shown has no precedent, declared Mr. Pandey. “In the political culture where the funding sources of the mainstream parties are largely unknown what gives an edge and a moral upper hand to the AAP is the fact that anybody can see the details of its contributors on its website. The moment one makes a contribution the details become online,” he concluded.

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